Our eight-legged friends are becoming more visible at this time of year, both in the house and outside. The striking wasp spider can be seen until October, its bold yellow stripes showing well in hedgerows and bushes. The garden spider, also known as the cross spider because of the large white cross down its abdomen, is busy weaving webs at this time of year too. They spin a classic spiral web, which can be especially noticeable on a dewy morning in the garden.
Autumn lady’s-tresses are small, delicate orchids that flower until late September. Their white flowers twist up in a spiral, and there will often be lots of floral spikes anywhere they can be found. If you get down on the ground, you might even be able to smell their delicate fragrance, but be careful where you tread as the stems are easily damaged.
While they might be more closely associated with the depths of autumn, some fungi will already be appearing in grasslands and woodland. Some which can be easy to spot (but not always to identify!) are the waxcaps. These fungi are often brightly coloured and have a shiny cap. Many species rely on low-nutrient grasslands which have not had fertilisers added to them and are not ploughed or disturbed. Because of these requirements, many waxcaps are now declining in range and are only found on a few sites. Graveyards and hay meadows can be a good place to look for them!
Up in the air
Butterflies and dragonflies are at their peak in high summer, but some species are a little late to the party. Clouded yellow butterflies are a migrant species that only arrive from Europe in very late summer. Their caterpillars eat clover plants, so they are especially likely to be seen in clover fields but can also be spotted in flowering meadows and gardens. Migrant hawker dragonflies are another late insect species. They are large in size and powerful fliers, catching their prey on the wing. They are also sociable, so look out for them in small groups around ponds or away from water, along hedgerows and woodland.